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Two Women on Wine: Thanksgiving wines, part two

Expand your wine menu

Posted: November 19, 2009 4:58 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Two Women on Wine

 
Even though we're traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving - your basic turkey and all the fixings, pumpkin pie, and a good red wine with dinner, usually a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau - we're the first to tell you there's ample opportunity to explore new tastes to complement old favorites on this special day.

This Thanksgiving we're going to change it up a bit and serve less traditional but nevertheless terrific wines with our Thanksgiving fare.

First, we're going to add an elegant, festive note to our Thanksgiving celebration. So as guests arrive, we open some chilled Brut Rosé (pink champagne), place a few cranberries in the bottom of a flute and pour in the bubbly. Or you might prefer to serve a California or Spanish sparkling rosé. Crisp and light, sparkling rosés pair well with appetizers, such as prosciutto, goat cheese and fig.

Fifteen or 20 minutes before dinner is on the table, we uncork two or three red wines selected to serve with the main course. Reds, even the lighter ones, need a bit of breathing time.

Speaking of dinner, the "basic" turkey dinner is a tapestry of colors, aromas, flavors and textures - white and dark turkey meat, herb-filled stuffing, savory gravy, spicy pumpkin pie, tart cranberries, sweet yams, and buttery, creamy mashed potatoes.
With such a wonderful meal to share, it seems unfair to expect just one good red to complement all that good food. That's why we expanded our Thanksgiving wine menu to include the sparkling rosé as well as a few different reds chosen to frame and enhance the menu.

This year rather than the traditional Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau, we decided to serve a Beaujolais-Village. As with the Nouveau, this Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape and is typically light and fruity with soft tannins - a perfect pairing with our turkey.
Since we will be serving a sausage stuffing to accompany our turkey, we plan to offer our guests a California Syrah. This varietal is well known for its blackberry, plum and peppery flavors, sometimes with hints of bitter chocolate and mocha. This will definitely be a nice complement to our spicy sausage dish.

And the final red we will be serving is a Zinfandel. This California varietal brings more personality to the table, with its plumy sometimes spicy flavors. It is more intense than Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. We suggest choosing one that's lower in alcohol (under 14 percent) so its heartier, deeper flavors won't be overwhelming.

So now that we have enjoyed our meal, let's not forget dessert. We're still very traditional in this department - pumpkin pie with whipped cream and an occasional apple or pecan pie. Sweet likes sweet, so we suggest a tawny Port to sip with dessert. Fortified with brandy, which gives it a higher sugar and alcohol content (up to 20 percent), Port stands up to our sweet Thanksgiving desserts.

Another favorite of ours to enjoy after dinner is a Brachetto di Aqui. This is a wonderful red sparkling wine from Italy that has a touch of sweetness. So if you're not into the Port you might want to try this very refreshing, delicious wine. It's a nice treat after a big meal to help digest all the good food you just enjoyed.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules about which wines to serve at Thanksgiving. You may prefer white wines (Escape, Nov. 6 issue). But if red appeals to you, here's our Thanksgiving red wine list to get you started.

Before dinner - Spanish sparkling rosé (Cava), chilled with cranberries: Mont-Ferrant Brut Rosé.

During dinner - Beaujolais: Albert Bichot 2008 Beaujolais-Village/France...serve slightly chilled. Syrah : Calcareous Twisted Sisters 2007 Syrah / Paso Robles. Zinfindel: Seghesio 2008 Zinfandel / Sonoma.

With dessert - Tawny Port: Weiss & Krohn Tawny Port / Portugal.

After dinner - Convento Cappuccini Brachetto di Aqui 2007 / Italy...serve chilled.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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